Ohio's largest homeless shelter just became more of a home. On Saturday, Nov. 4, more than 50 volunteers and organizers gathered at 2100 Lakeside
—the men’s homeless shelter run by Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry
(LMM)—to build a gazebo on land donated by the Cuyahoga Land Bank at 2138 Lakeside Ave. and clean up the surrounding neighborhood.
The event was part of LMM’s annual "Team Up to Clean Up" day, during which volunteers and shelter residents show their commitment to the neighborhood and its businesses.
“The project started with the 2100 Lakeside shelter because we want to be a good neighbor to the area businesses,” explains Michael Sering, vice president of housing and shelter for LMM. “We wanted to clean up and beautify the area, and in doing so, engage the community and the guys from the shelter.”
Mission accomplished: volunteers showed up from 2100 Lakeside, Case Western Reserve University
, MetroHealth System
, Mayfield United Methodist Church
, Gesu Parish Boy Scout Troop 620 leaders
, and CAKE (Community Activists Kicking it Everywhere) Nation
, as well as participants in Court Community Service
. They helped construct the gazebo, make a beef stew lunch, participate in an art project with colored duct tape, and pick up and recycle trash around 24 blocks in the neighborhood.
The group also cleaned two LMM shuttle buses that transport 140 men to vital services each week, and CWRU’s Phi Delta Theta fraternity picked up trash, participated in the art project, and scraped and painted a 180-square-foot storage shed.
This year’s Team Up to Clean Up project was funded by a Great Little Place placemaking grant from the City of Cleveland. The grant paid for materials, but the labor was all volunteer. All in all, 55 volunteers contributed 135 work hours toward the endeavor.
The day started at 9 a.m. with five gallons of coffee and 100 donuts. By noon, the 12-foot gazebo—162 pieces—was almost completed. More than 250 people were then treated to lunch made by Mayfield United Methodist Church members John Parker and Tom Sulzer and served by CWRU volunteers.
“Together, we showed in ways big and small that people who care can make a difference,” Sering told the group before lunch. LMM board member and volunteer Leontine Synor thanked the group for their help, and LMM volunteer coordinator Lydia Bailey led a prayer.
“I’m glad we were able to clean up and make the area more palatable place,” says Synor. “This is just a passion of mine.”
Brian [last name redacted], who has been sleeping at the 350-bed shelter since January, was one of the volunteers working on the gazebo construction. “It’s a chance to make it nice,” he says, noting that he believes it will be popular in the summer months. “I think a lot of guys here will get good use of it, especially when it’s raining out.”
Sering says the men at the shelter are eager to lend a hand on Team Up to Clean Up day. “Last year, they put in 150,000 hours of community service,” says Sering. "Often, when you hear someone ask why they are willing to help, you hear the answer, ‘I want to give back.’ Most people think a guy, when he’s homeless, doesn’t want to help.”